America’s Disappearing Farm and Range Land
U.S. agricultural land is some of the most productive and expensive in the world.
More than 31 million acres of U.S. agricultural land have been irrevocably lost to urban expansion since 1982 and an additional 175 acres of farm and ranchland are lost every hour to make way housing and other industries.1
The land that is being lost is some of the most productive agricultural land in the country. It has the right combination of micro-climates, growing seasons and water availability to allow intensive cultivation with minimal environmental impact.2
Urban and suburban expansion is also reducing the amount of agricultural land for sale and contributing to high land prices. This is compounded by the fact that land is usually kept in within families. Between 2014 and 2019, 91.5 million acres of farm and range land will transfer ownership, but only 21 million of those acres will be available on the open market.3
While land prices have declined in the last few years, farmers are still finding it difficult to afford high-quality land; for young farmers, land prices and access are their top concerns.
- American Farmland Trust, https://www.farmland.org/our-work/areas-of-focus/farmland, accessed September 24, 2018.
- American Farmland Trust, “Farms Under Threat: The State of America’s Farmland,” May 9, 2018.
- USDA NAAS, 2014 Tenure, Ownership and Transition of Agricultural Land Survey.